The hope of the Common Core is that all students will be college and career ready by the time they graduate high school. Ambitious? Yes, but a goal that Common Core advocates feels is necessary if America will remain competitive in a global economy. The standards assess specific skills in English/Language Arts and Math. One would expect the standards are like an intellectual workout routine for success. As you meet each standard, the stronger you get to achieving college and career readiness. However, the architects offer a “profile” of characteristics, rather than specific standards, that a college and career ready student exemplifies.
Look at it as a LinkedIn profile that leads to future success. As the architects put it: “As students advance through the grades and master the standards in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language, they are able to exhibit with increasing fullness and regularity these capacities of the literate individual.” The term “literate individual” makes me think of Jean-Jacques Rosseau’s treatise on education Emile. Rousseau describes how he tutors his fictional student Emile to become a “natural man,” or enlightened man for the modern world. My eldest daughter will be a member of the graduating class of 2026. So, for our purposes, we are going to name our “literate individual” @Emile2026.
What skills does @Emile2026 highlight in his LinkedIn profile? (Cue Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man”…)
• @Emile’s Independent: He’s a self-directed learner who seeks out print and digital resources and asks his teacher for guidance.
• @Emile builds Strong Content Knowledge: He is well versed in array of different subject matter, and effectively communicates his knowledge through writing and speaking.
• @Emile responds to varying demands of Audience, Task, Purpose, and Discipline: He adjusts his tone and word choice depending who he is talking to and what he is trying to accomplish in his communication.
• @Emile Comprehends and Critiques: He discerns what an author is trying to communicate, but also analyzes assumptions and questions an author’s use of bias.
• @Emile values Evidence: He uses evidence from print and digital sources to support his claims and to demonstrate a balanced approach to an argument.
• @Emile uses Technology and Digital Media strategically and capably: He uses a variety of multimedia in his writing, speaking, and communication, but is also aware which type of technology is best suited for his communication goals.
• @Emile understands other Perspectives and Cultures: He is cognizant he will study and work with people of different cultures and beliefs from across the globe. He actively seeks to understand other perspectives through speaking and listening.
Thinking about the @Emiles in my classroom, I wonder how will I get them to demonstrate they are college and career ready? It may be difficult to assess, but I can keep these characteristics in mind when planning a unit.
Take for example a research essay. All my students will be writing argumentative research essays in the spring. In planning my units, I need to be mindful how the formative and summative assignments will steer my students to college and career readiness. The characteristics serve as a checklist:
• How can my students independently evaluate sources for their essay?
• How can I guide my students to build content knowledge on their essay topics?
• What vocabulary do they need to know that is relevant to their task and their audience?
• How will I teach them to annotate so they can both discern and critique sources for their essay?
• What databases will I direct them towards so they get a balanced perspective on their essay topics?
• What applications will I ask my students to use to take notes on their research, evaluate their sources, and present their findings to their peers?
• How will teaching students the point/counterpoint structure help them understand different cultures or perspectives?
The architects of the Common Core hope the @Emiles in our classrooms will graduate as well-rounded human beings who are independent, knowledgeable, critically thinking, and mindful of themselves and their world. As you (re)design your lessons to meet the Common Core, consider how you are preparing your students to graduate high school, succeed in college, and in their future careers.